Kuala Lumpur: At least 24 Indian sailors were taken hostage by Somali pirates who hijacked a Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier near Seychelles on Thursday, just a week after a vessel with two Indians among the crew was seized by the sea brigands.
The MV Al Khaliq is owned and operated by SNP, a Mumbai-based company and managed by London-based Holbud Shipping Management. "The vessel was hijacked on its way to Mombasa," Abdulgani Y Serang, General Secretary of National Union of Seafarers of India, said in Mumbai.
"We are in touch with SNP, which is working on the matter on a war-footing," he said.
A NATO spokesman in London said, "There were 26 crew on board -- 24 Indians and two Burmese. The 33,000 DWT bulk carrier was hijacked this morning in the Somali Basin.”
"This is the third vessel hijacked by Somali pirates during the last one week," the spokesman said.
The EU`s anti-piracy naval force has said in a statement that the incident took place 180 nautical miles west of Seychelles. They said at least six pirates are on board the ship, which is being followed by "two attack skiffs (boats)".
Two Indians were among an unspecified number of crew on board a ship, `MV Kota Wajar`, which was hijacked by Somali pirates on October 15 in the Indian Ocean.
Noel Choong, the head of the International Maritime Bureau`s Piracy Reporting Centre, said in Kuala Lumpur that today`s hijacking came just after the PRC had sent a warning to all ships transiting east and south of Somalia, off Kenya and off Tanzania.